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Mayor Responds to "Tyrant" Label

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Tyrant — not the first name I've ever been called, not the worst, nor is it likely to be the last ("Methodical Tyrants," News & Features, May 2). Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And if a little bit of name-calling bothered me, I would have left public service a very long time ago.

In a recent article, a columnist for Style Weekly compares my actions as mayor with those of noted business leaders that he regarded as "methodical tyrants." Of course, whereas these business leaders always had an overarching goal in mind that drove their actions, that columnist sees no similar method to my madness.

Actually, his use of the word tyrant brought to mind one of my favorites quotes of Jefferson, a quote that I would suggest is a far more apt commentary on my actions. Jefferson argued that leaders should "enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day."

Each and every day since I took the mayoral oath of office, I have sought to do what I promised I would do when I ran in 2004 — to bring out into the light of day the operations of city government. And in so doing, return the people's government to them. Because if taxpayers are going to foot the bill of government, should not government be accountable to its citizens?

When subjected to such scrutiny, some programs, pet projects and the attitude of "doing business the way we've always done it" no longer were defensible. That is why my administration has sought to eliminate waste and inefficiency. That is why we have brought in new talent with fresh approaches — Chief Rodney Monroe and Deputy CAO for Human Services Saphira Baker are just two examples among many.

Of course, some have resisted our efforts to present to the people a clear and unadulterated view of how their city operates and how their tax dollars are being spent — whether at City Hall or in the Richmond Public Schools. I am not surprised.

I will keep my focus where it has been from day one — changing fundamentally the way in which the City of Richmond operates, so that we can provide to her citizens — our clients (to use a business metaphor) — what they so richly deserve and rightly demand: sound infrastructure, safe streets, superior schools, a variety of affordable housing choices, stable jobs and a quality of life that is second to none.

When my term as mayor has ended, measure the results and then let's talk about where I've not done the job.

Mayor L. Douglas Wilder
Richmond

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